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I'm working on a project that uses a bunch of "hobbyist" components (regular components mounted on breakout boards) that I would like to mount to a main PCB. I want to make the components swappable by putting headers on the main PCB so that you can simply pull off and plug in a new component should one fail (not that they are likely to fail, it just somehow became a requirement). This would work fine however some of the components don't come with any presoldered pins and I don't want to have people soldering pins to them to swap the components.

Are there any kind of connectors that allow you to plug PCBs into them that have nothing than standard 0.1" spaced predrilled holes?

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Autosplice (and possibly others) make solderless teminals like these:

enter image description here

See the datasheet here. These can be pressed into the PCB with some gentle force if you don't have too many pins to connect at one time. You'll need to solder the straight end into the main PCB.

Note that neither these headers nor the PCBs you press them into will have high cycle counts - The headers will flatten, and the hole plating on the daughter cards will be gouged by the headers. Note also that the connection won't be as durable as a soldered link; don't subject these to lots of vibration or tension from a cable connection. If either of these problems are a showstopper, you'll need a standard connector with a soldered link.

However, for your "In case they fail" application, this should be a fine solution. Sparkfun is out of stock, you can email the manufacturer at sales@autosplice.com or look at their distributors.

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If you can install pins on each breakout component, then I'd recommend installing female headers on the PCB: http://www.sparkfun.com/products/115. That way, you can plug and unplug breakout components easily. No soldering/desoldering required when swapping components.

Edit

Digikey part numbers for female headers

pins     straight     right-angle

2        S7035-ND     S5477-ND
3        S7036-ND     S5478-ND
4        S7037-ND     S5479-ND
5        S7038-ND     S5480-ND
6        S7039-ND     S5481-ND
8        S7041-ND     S5483-ND
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Right, but I'd like to avoid having to do that at all. The point is that you can buy the components of the shell and use the directly without any soldering. Speaking of which, does anyone know what the part number for those female headers are on digikey? \$\endgroup\$ – Faken Sep 19 '11 at 1:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, sorry, I missed the point of the question. I couldn't find the part number for those specific headers, but someone posted the numbers for specific pin count female headers. I've edited my answer including them. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Laplante Sep 19 '11 at 1:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ NICE! I've been looking EVERYWHERE on digikey for those parts! Thank you! \$\endgroup\$ – Faken Sep 19 '11 at 1:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're welcome. Glad they helped! \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Laplante Sep 19 '11 at 13:41

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